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Minister plays board games with Rand Water

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is concerned with the appointment of controversial individuals to the Rand Water board.

The reappointment of Advocate Faith Matshidiso Hashatse, Mr Lefadi Lucas Makibinyane, Ms Nomsa Georgina Mbileni, Ms Sophie Fende Molokoane and Mr Ramateu Monyokolo, was announced by Cabinet yesterday (20 September 2018), despite OUTA raising red-flags regarding corruption and mismanagement at Rand Water with the Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

“These re-appointments fail to demonstrate the Minister’s commitment to turn things around in water entities like Rand Water, whose previous board failed to exercise effective oversight” said Yamkela Ntola, OUTA’s Portfolio Manager on Water and Environment.

At the end of August, OUTA wrote a letter to the Minister of the DWS opposing the re-appointment of board members serving on the boards of Magalies Water, Rand Water and Umgeni Water. OUTA’s letter follows the first part of its submissions to Parliament on the functioning of the DWS and the water entities to which the DWS is a stakeholder.

OUTA’s submission detailed and provided evidence on corruption, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as well as maladministration at the water entities.

On Rand Water, OUTA shed light on the excessive bonuses awarded to the then Chief Executive, Mr Percy Sechemane which were not in accordance with the DWS policy on the “Remuneration of Chief Executives of Water Boards and Subsidiaries”.

In addition, the submission argues that Rand Water’s implementation of the War on Leaks Programme and the Sedibeng Regional Sanitation Scheme (SRSS) have been unsuccessful.

According to DWS’ presentation to Parliament, The War on Leaks Programme is aimed “at assisting Municipalities with fixing water leaks through providing essential skills of artisans, water agents and plumbers to unemployed South African youth”. The Programme’s budget is note specified despite its projected total expenditure amounting to R3 billion. In fact, earlier this year, Rand Water’s Strategic Human Capital Executive, Ms Wayida Mohamed indicated to Parliament that the entity had confronted challenges which include overspending and outstanding payments which negatively affected service delivery. To date, no tangible evidence has been produced as to who the learners are, whether stipends have been paid or qualifications conferred on each learner. OUTA wrote to the President and Parliament highlighting these issues on 20 July 2018 and is yet to receive a response.

Regarding the SRSS, OUTA is deeply disappointed in the failure of its implementation as the project would have improved infrastructure and had a significant socio-economic benefit in the region. “However, poor implementation by Rand Water has resulted in raw sewage polluting areas such as the Emfuleni Municipality, the Vaal Dam and surrounding communities. This, among other things, is a serious human rights violation which impacts on the wellbeing of those living in affected areas,” said Ntola.

Over the next week, OUTA will be making an extensive submission (with evidence) on the SRSS to the South African Human Rights Commission’s inquiry on pollution in the Vaal and Emfuleni.

Addressing the leadership crisis within the water entities is pivotal in addressing SA’s water shortcomings. “By reinstating those who have not exercised effective oversight the Minister is prolonging the prevailing crisis which will likely maintain the status quo”, added Ntola.

OUTA is a proudly South African civil action organisation, that is purely crowd funded. Our work is supported by ordinary citizens who are passionate about holding government accountable and ensuring our taxes are used to the benefit of all South Africans.

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